Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lincoln Park Firefighters Mega 80's

by: dankelzaga

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…

It was an era of leg warmers, leather ties, parachute pants, and neon shirts.  On Friday, February 27th, all things 80’s converged for the annual Lincoln Park Firefighters’ Association fundraiser.  Great Lakes Base and Great Lake Garrison showed their support to the cause with a representation of key characters from “Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983). 

The evening, which has become a very popular event among Great Lakes Base members, involves a wonderful dinner, beverages, a plethora of 80’s costumes, and of course… great 80’s music!  Attendees danced the night away to the tunes of Madonna, Prince, Men without Hats, Rick Springfield, Poison, Devo, and many others.  The band “Mega 80’s” was on hand and provided the non- stop playlist of popular songs.  In addition to the Star Wars costumes, many other 80’s personas were also represented.  Elliot from “E.T.”, the “Revenge of the Nerds” cast, “The Karate Kid” and even Dark Helmet from “Spaceballs” were on hand. 

The event was started with a prayer of safety and remembrance for the firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice over the course of the previous year.  Following a moment of silence a wonderful buffet was provided to all attendees.  To kick the party off, a grand entrance by the Star Wars costumers was conducted in conjunction with the music of Star Wars.

The event has grown in popularity since its inception and there has been talk of expanding it to a full weekend event.  Great Lakes Base is proud to be a part of this event and we are already looking forward to next year!

Monday, January 19, 2015

USA Hockey Star Wars Night

Saturday night was “Star Wars Night” at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor.  The USA Hockey National U-18 team faced the Dubuque Fighting Saints in support of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.  Members of the Great Lakes Base, Great Lakes Garrison and Ohio Garrison were in attendance to add their support. 

It was Chewie and Han’s opportunity to help drop the puck to get the game started.  The home team wore special Star Wars-themed jerseys, with Han Solo and his favorite ship on the back.  The designer of the jersey, Darrin Brege, was there to see it in action.   A blaster table was in operation to help raise additional funds for the charity during the intermissions. 

There was a great representation of characters and much fun was had between the rebels and the empire.  A TK was actually able to hit a target from the blaster table, and there was much celebration.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kourageous Keith

“The Rebel Pilot hides in the basement, alone, hoping to avoid detection at all cost…”

No, that’s not the opening line of the latest X-Wing series novel -- just me being the first to arrive at a surprise birthday party request that came in to Great Lakes Base, Ohio Garrison and Rancor Clan this past weekend. 

 The birthday party was for a brave kid known as “Kourageous Keith.” Keith just turned 8 years old and he is fighting a rare form of pediatric cancer called “undifferentiated soft tissue sarcom” -- for the second time.  His mother sent in a request for a few Star Wars characters to make an appearance at his birthday party, an invite our guys were glad to accept.  As you’d imagine, we tend to get a lot of birthday party event requests (for various reasons) -- yet we tend to only accept ones involving kids with serious medical issues.

Once the rest of the guys joined me in my underground hideout/basement, everyone got suited up as quietly as possible. After a while, Keith’s mom comes downstairs to check if we’re ready.  She goes back upstairs and announces that there’s some “special guests” who’d like to wish Keith a happy birthday; which is our cue to start heading upstairs.

In case you were wondering how many adult-sized Star Wars characters can fit in your standard-size living room = the answer is four; yet we somehow managed to fit six of us in the room!

After the rush of kids and parents taking cell phone pictures of Keith with all of the Star Wars characters, you can’t come to a kid’s birthday party without bringing some presents!  Bunch of the guys donated various Star Wars coloring books, toys and Hot Wheels cars for Keith’s birthday.  Keith tried on my Rebel Pilot helmet, which went along with his “Rebels Rule” t-shirt, and checked out one of the Mercs’ blaster rifle.  Then it was time for us to load up the spaceship and leave Keith and his family to enjoy the rest of his party.

You can find out more about “Kourageous Keith” by visiting his facebook community page:

Monday, December 8, 2014

GLB five-year Celebration

This year, Great Lakes Base has been celebrating it’s five-year anniversary with The Rebel Legion!  As one of the largest Bases within Rebel Legion, this milestone says a lot about not only the current members, but also the many people who’ve come and gone over that time.  One of the best ways to honor the legacy of Great Lakes Base is by coming together to celebrate the occasion with our fellow band of “Rebels.”  That is precisely what happened this past weekend in Maumee, Ohio.

Jed’s Fireball and Brew has become the (unofficial) center of Great Lakes Base.  The sports bar is located just outside of Toledo, with easy access from either the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton or Detroit regions of either Michigan or Ohio.  As many of us travel these “hyperspace routes” to and from events on a regular basis, finding a centralized location to host a rally for a volunteer group is helpful. This year’s holiday party would be extra special because it also served that the five-year anniversary celebration.

BrianKenobi and Lumpy welcomed everybody to this special occasion with a brief “State of the Base” address; pointing out the fact that Great Lakes Base is the third largest Base in Rebel Legion, that we’re tied for the largest population of Wookiees within RL, and that for the third year in a row GLB has trooped +100 “missions” over the course of the year.  BrianKenobi also introduced Moff D, the original Commanding Officer for Great Lakes Base, who helped keep this group together during some rather difficult times and thank him for helping build the Base we have today.

Then came time for the announcement of this year’s “Skywalker Select Awards.”  The Skywalker Select Award is presented to a GLB member from each state “for outstanding commitment, devotion and contributions to the Great Lakes Base.”  This year’s recipients were Foogy One (Ohio) and kcjohnson (Michigan)

Once the “rebel briefing” was taken care of, it was time to celebrate and HAVE FUN! Sheikahchica hosted her annual “White (Bantha)” gift exchange, which is a huge hit with the crowd.  For reasons I can’t get into (for now), Lumpy and Bacca9 decided to suit up in their respective Wookiee costumes for a while – which made the evening feel a bit like the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”

Here’s to another five years (and more) of Great Lakes Base!  Because when it comes to this Star Wars family having a good time… “it’s what we do!”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toledo Walleye

If there’s two things in life that I live for it’s Star Wars and ice hockey. Which means that when you bring those two things together, it becomes the “Reese’s Cup” of AWESOME!  And that is exactly what happened when Great Lakes Base and Ohio Garrison returned for “Star Wars Night” with the Toledo Walleye.

After the overwhelming success of last year’s Star Wars promotion, you would think this year has to be BIGGER then the year before – but if there’s anything I learned growing up playing hockey it’s that not every goal is scored on the power play!  We have done several sporting events with this organization, who also own the Toledo Mudhens baseball team (across the street) and one of the things we keep emphasizing to their promotions staff is that our guys work best when we are interacting with the fans.  So that is exactly the mission the Walleye staff gave us!

First off was a pregame character dinner where fans could enjoy some burgers and hot dogs, followed by some special one-on-one time with us.  Many of the kids were dressed up in their favorite Star Wars costumes and each family went around taking pictures with us.  It was fun to get to spend a little extra time with each kid, asking them who their favorite Star Wars character was -- particularly the one kid who pointed to me and said, “You!” (you can bet that kid got a high five for that answer)

Eventually, it was time for the game to start and we setup around the Walleye’s photo booth station.  The photo booth had a “green screen” backdrop (because what is Star Wars without a little green screen effects?) where fans could get their photo taken with any of us and have a special Star Wars background added in.  Each of us took turns in front of the camera, sometime fans would request for a specific character or two. The rest of us took pictures with fans passing by or as they waited in line for the photo booth.

Hockey is a game of speed and trying to troop one goes by even faster!  Plus it was a good night for the home team as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Orlando Solar Bear 4-3, extending their six game winning streak.  I’d like to personally thank the Toledo Walleye staff for not only inviting us… but also for taking care of my parents, who drove up to watch both the game and watch their kids play “Star Wars” -- two things which go great together!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Toledo Children's Hospital

One of the things you will hear many people say about groups like ours is that we get to “play Halloween, all year round.”  While that may be true in some respect, not every kid gets to go out and have fun Trick-Or-Treating with their friends… which made yesterday’s mission extra special when Great Lakes Base and Ohio Garrison were invited back to Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, to visit with the kids being treated there.

Hospital visits can be something of a balancing act for groups like ours; there can be a lot of protocol involved that could make C3P0’s circuits fizzle.  Each encounter with a patient is unique and both the hospital staff and Star Wars costumers want to help create as many smiles as possible, while at the same time respecting the patients and their parents needs.  For this visit, we ended up going from room to room visiting with kids individually -- because (thank the Force) the children’s wing of the hospital was fairly inactive this weekend.

In some cases, we were not allowed into the room for medical reason -- so we just stood in the doorway and took turns saying "hello!"  There was one girl in the children's ICU unit, whom I'll never forget because she had the most upbeat attitude.  Other times, both parents and nurses told us that they hadn’t seen their kid as excited as when we dropped in to visit them.  Amazing what holding a Jedi's lightsaber can do to improve a sick child's morale!

And as I explained to the kids, since we Star Wars characters are “kind of new to this planet…” and “didn’t totally understand how this Trick-Or-Treat thing worked?” we showed up came with a bag filled with various Star Wars toys, coloring books and games for them to pick something out. (Did I get that backwards?)  In fact, one kid was so excited to receive a gift from us that he rushed over to his Halloween bucket, pulled out some of his candy and put it into our bag as a gift for us… good trade!

Trooping at a hospital can be a balancing act, but they are also one of the most rewarding types of events costume groups get to do!  My first “official” event with Rebel Legion was at a local hospital visit and I’d like to see us do more of them with various local children’s hospitals.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick or Treat Trail

by: flutefreak03

Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison participated in the Clawson Youth Assistance “Trick or Treat Trail” event in Clawson Michigan. Our NCS passed out candy while two Storm Troopers, a Jedi, Mara Jade, Rebel Pilot and Lando Calrissian stood along the path to greet and take pictures with the kids.  The Stormtroopers were popular characters until it got dark, when the lightsabers could show up better… then Mara Jade and the Jedi were the “cool kids!” Whether you are a fan of the light side or dark side of the Force, both kids and adults were pleased to see us at the event.

The line of kids trick or treating looked like it would never end and we (surprisingly) did not run out of candy.  We encountered many Elsas and Annas from “Frozen” along with several Ninja Turtles.  Overall, this troop was a lot of fun and the looks on the kids faces made it worth it.